Agenda item

Councillor Phil Dilks

Following the conviction and jailing last year of 11 members of a fraud and slavery ring centred in Lincolnshire, our local police force revealed they have FIVE further ongoing investigations into modern slavery in our county.

 

Lincoln Crown Court heard horrific stories of how the gang forced 18 victims into gruelling jobs and squalid living conditions over a long period.

 

The National Crime Agency stated that the horrific case was

 

…merely the tip of the iceberg  and there are thousands of people being kept as slaves in the UK – far more than previously thought and affecting all types of communities across every part of the country.

 

In the spirit of working to do everything within its power to eradicate this and recognising recent changes in the way projects and services may be delivered, the Council now resolves to take the lead in strengthening and building on its existing public statement on Modern Slavery.

 

Specifically, the Council will take the following actions:

 

1          Ensure that all those employed to procure goods and services for the Council -including those working for Gravitas Housing Limited, InvestSK, DeliverSK and any other company set up by the Council – are trained through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s (CIPS) online course on Ethical Procurement and Supply to understand modern slavery

 

2          Require all contractors and private sector partners of Gravitas Housing Limited, InvestSK, DeliverSK, - and any other company or partnership set up by the Council - to comply fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies, with contract/partnership termination as a potential sanction for non-compliance.

 

3          Challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders or offers to work in partnership with the Council - or with companies set up by the Council - to ensure they do not rely on the potential contractor or partner practising modern slavery.

 

4          Write into agreements and contracts with the Council’s suppliers and potential partners that contracted workers are free to join a trade union and are not to be treated unfairly for belonging to one.

 

5          Require tendered contractors and partner companies working with the Council - whether directly or through Gravitas Housing Limited, Invest SK, Deliver SK or any other company set up by the Council - to adopt a whistle-blowing policy which enables their staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

 

6          Publicise the Council’s whistle-blowing system for staff and those working for companies set up by the Council to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

 

7          Regularly review all such contractual spending and partnerships to identify any potential issues with modern slavery.

 

8          Highlight for suppliers to the Council and partners in companies set up by the Council any risks identified concerning modern slavery and refer them to the relevant agencies to be addressed.

 

9          Refer for investigation via the National Crime Agency’s national referral mechanism any contractor or partner working with the Council or its companies, which may be identified as a cause for concern regarding modern slavery.

 

10       Report publicly on the implementation of this policy annually.

Minutes:

Decision:

 

In the spirit of working to do everything within its power to eradicate this and recognising recent changes in the way projects and services may be delivered, the Council resolves to work with contractors, Police and H M Revenue and Customs to deal with instances of modern slavery and to build on its existing Public Statement. The Council further undertakes to request the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee review the Council’s existing commitments, including those set out in the Equality and Diversity Annual Position Statement 2017 and propose any further recommendations as appropriate.

 

Councillor Dilks proposed his motion:

 

In the spirit of working to do everything within its power to eradicate this and recognising recent changes in the way projects and services may be delivered, the Council now resolves to take the lead in strengthening and building on its existing public statement on Modern Slavery.

 

Specifically, the Council will take the following actions:

 

1.    Ensure that all those employed to procure goods and services for the Council -including those working for Gravitas Housing Limited, InvestSK, DeliverSK and any other company set up by the Council – are trained through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s (CIPS) online course on Ethical Procurement and Supply to understand modern slavery

 

2.    Require all contractors and private sector partners of Gravitas Housing Limited, InvestSK, DeliverSK, - and any other company or partnership set up by the Council - to comply fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies, with contract/partnership termination as a potential sanction for non-compliance.

 

3.    Challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders or offers to work in partnership with the Council - or with companies set up by the Council - to ensure they do not rely on the potential contractor or partner practising modern slavery.

 

4.    Write into agreements and contracts with the Council’s suppliers and potential partners that contracted workers are free to join a trade union and are not to be treated unfairly for belonging to one.

 

5.    Require tendered contractors and partner companies working with the Council - whether directly or through Gravitas Housing Limited, Invest SK, Deliver SK or any other company set up by the Council - to adopt a whistle-blowing policy which enables their staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

 

6.    Publicise the Council’s whistle-blowing system for staff and those working for companies set up by the Council to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

 

7.    Regularly review all such contractual spending and partnerships to identify any potential issues with modern slavery.

 

8.    Highlight for suppliers to the Council and partners in companies set up by the Council any risks identified concerning modern slavery and refer them to the relevant agencies to be addressed.

 

9.    Refer for investigation via the National Crime Agency’s national referral mechanism any contractor or partner working with the Council or its companies, which may be identified as a cause for concern regarding modern slavery.

 

10.Report publicly on the implementation of this policy annually.

 

In so doing, he made reference to statistical information about the extent of modern slavery in the UK and measures that had recently been announced to protect people from slavery. He added that Councils had an important role to play in tackling modern slavery including identifying and supporting victims and making sure the organisation’s purchasing power was used correctly. He explained that he had brought the motion as a chance for the Council to show that it cares about the issue, to raise awareness and to make a commitment to fight the issue. He explained that a similar motion had been passed by other local authorities in the country, adding that he did not think it was an issue about which the Council should turn a blind eye.

 

The motion was seconded and the seconder referred to a recent modern slavery case in Lincolnshire. Reference was made to the conditions in which victims were forced to live and how the problem was so serious because the signs were often hidden. The seconder also referred to a section from the Council’s Contract and Procurement Procedure Rules, which state that the Council is committed to ensuring contractors and suppliers adhere to the highest standards of ethics.

 

Some support was expressed for the motion but not the actions that were proposed. Reference was also made to modern slavery cases from other parts of the country and indictors of modern slavery. Further statistical information about the modern slavery helpline was also shared. One speaker said that the Council should do everything it could to ensure that modern slavery was eradicated and that passing a motion to that end would not be sufficient.

 

An amendment to the motion was proposed and seconded:

 

In the spirit of working to do everything within its power to eradicate this and recognising recent changes in the way projects and services may be delivered, the Council resolves to work with contractors, Police and H M Revenue and Customs to deal with instances of modern slavery and to build on its existing public statement. The Council further undertakes to request the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee review the Council’s existing commitments, including those set out in the Equality and Diversity Annual Position Statement 2017 and propose any further recommendations as appropriate.    

 

One Member spoke against the amendment, saying that it brought little by way of substantive action and that the original motion proposed sensible measures that would result in more than just a vote.

 

The proposer of the original motion said that with reluctance he would support the amendment as he did not want the issue to be political and the Council’s stance to be cross-party.

 

On being put to the vote, the amendment was carried and became the substantive motion. The substantive motion was put to the vote and carried.